KENNEDY, Dorothy I.D.




Author Tags: First Nations

Dorothy Kennedy is a consulting anthropologist, occasional university lecturer and expert witness specializing in the Indigenous cultures of British Columbia, Washington State and, most recently, Alberta and the Yukon. She completed a Doctorate degree in Anthropology from the University of Oxford, England in 2000, and an award-winning Master’s degree in Anthropology from the University of Victoria where she has taught in the Anthropology Department and the Indigenous Education Program. For the past four decades, including two decades devoted intensively to ethnographic and linguistic fieldwork in First Nations’ communities, she has been engaged full-time in the research process, from conceptual planning and document review to issue-focused research, analysis, and reporting. She is the author or co-author (primarily with her colleague and husband, Randy Bouchard), of hundreds of reports, as well as numerous published articles and books, both scientific and popular, including four articles in the Plateau and Northwest Coast volumes of the Smithsonian Institution’s Handbook of North American Indians and, most-recently, Talonbooks’ The Lil’wat World of Charlie Mack (2010). Kennedy and Bouchard are also editors of the well-acclaimed Indian Myths and Legends from the North-Pacific Coast of America, a translation of Franz Boas’ first and significant collection of BC First Nations’ mythology published by Talonbooks in 2002, and originally published in German in 1895. As of 2017, she was with Bouchard & Kennedy Research Consultants at Mill Bay, B.C.

*

Compiled by Franz Boas and first published in 1895, Indian Myths and Legends from the North Pacific Coast (2002) is a monumental work that represents the oral traditions of a dozen coastal and interior First Nations and at least 15 languages. Translated by Deitrich Bertz, edited and annotated by Randy Bouchard and Dorothy Kennedy, the re-released 702-page version from Talonbooks represents more than 30 years of work by the B.C. Indian Language Project which sponsored it. The British Columbia Indian Language Project is directed by ethnographer/linguist Randy Bouchard and socio-cultural anthropologist Dorothy Kennedy. Since its founding in the early 1970s, the Project has been dedicated to the documentation and preservation of B.C.'s First Nations languages, cultures, and histories. “Opening Indian Myths and Legends from the North Pacific Coast,” wrote reviewer Gerry Hopson in BC BookWorld, “is something like looking into the first English edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls, except that here we are dealing with a greater diversity of spiritual traditions and peoples.”

Based on oral history gathered during 1977 and 1981, Kennedy and Bouchard's comprehensive study of the Aboriginal people of the Desolation Sound area is Sliammon Life, Sliammon Lands (1983), a collaborative work that describes the cultures of the Sliammon, Homalco and Klahoose First Nations on both sides of the northern Strait of Georgia. Although the title refers to the people at the village of Sliammon near Powell River, most of the information gathered was related to the Klahoose. Kennedy and Bouchard also collaborated on Lillooet Stories (1977), Shuswasp Stories (1979) and The Lil'wat World of Charlie Mack (2010), a tribute to their long-time collaborator and Mount Currie Reserve storyteller, Charlie Mack, who was born in 1899 and died in 1990. They present his world view, moral code and English versions of his stories drawing on transcribed interviews, correspondence and field notes. "After all these years," says anthropologist Dorothy Kennedy, "I felt it important to recontexualize the stories and help make them understandable to the younger generation who so often view the stories as artefacts from another world."

Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
Sliammon Life, Sliammon Lands

BOOKS:

Bouchard, Randy & Dorothy Kennedy (editors). Lillooet Stories (Victoria: Sound Heritage #16, 1977)

Bouchard, Randy & Dorothy Kennedy (editors). Shuswap Stories (Vancouver: CommCept, 1979).

Bouchard, Randy & Dorothy Kennedy. Sliammon Life, Sliammon Lands (Talonbooks, 1983).

Bouchard, Randy & Dorothy Kennedy (editors). Boas, Franz. Indian Myths and Legends from the North Pacific Coast (Talonbooks 2002). Translated by Deitrich Bertz.

The Lil'wat World of Charlie Mack (Talonbooks 2010).

[BCBW 2010]

Indian Myths and Legends from the North Pacific Coast (Talon $65)
Article



Opening Indian Myths and Legends from the North Pacific Coast (Talon $65) is something like looking into the first English edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls, except that here we are dealing with a greater diversity of spiritual traditions and peoples.

Compiled by German anthropologist Franz Boas and first published in 1895, these indigenous myths and legends prompted one anonymous academic reviewer to say they were “almost equivalent to the discovery of a group of hundred-and-fifty-year-olds from these Native groups, all in full possession of their faculties.”

This 702-page version of Boas—translated by Deitrich Bertz, edited and annotated by Randy Bouchard and Dorothy Kennedy—is one of those monumental books, slightly grizzled and flawed by time, that offers astonishing visions of another era.

Collected in the 1890s by Boas on a series of field trips to coastal and interior regions of B.C., the oral traditions represented draw on a dozen First Nations and up to 15 languages. Put together painstakingly over the course of a generation, starting in the 1970s, the resulting annotated translation is a tribute to the editors, the publisher and the B.C. Indian Language Project, which sponsored it. In spite of the weight of scholarship and the enormous variety of material, Myths and Legends is a handsome, accessible volume. The narratives retain pride of place with the apparatus tucked quietly but usefully at the bottom of each page.

Any book sailing into its second century is bound to have baggage—shortcomings where shortcomings would never have been guessed at the time of compilation. Boas’ recording technique left a lot to be desired, depending as it did on third parties or scanty knowledge of local languages picked up on the spot. He failed more often than not to even identify his Native informants.

The young anthropologist also complained about the long-windedness of his sources. They often repeated themselves in ritual patterns he failed to comprehend while he scrambled to keep up with the “story.” The editors rightly draw our attention to these rough spots. Many of these tales are based on an interpreter’s sketchy translation of an unknown speaker talking in an aboriginal dialect reconstructed later, in German, by Boas from his notes.

Bouchard and Kennedy single out some renditions of the ancestor legends from the Southern Kwakiutl as particularly “superb…resplendent with genealogies and the identity of carved figures on the remaining village poles.” Though a European of his era, Franz Boas was a man with a mission to record —as widely as possible — the oral culture of what, at the time, were known as “the vanishing tribes,” peoples being driven to extinction by disease and social and political aggression.

Boas’ great virtue as a recorder was his commitment to the specificity and historicity of the materials he collected (sometimes, in the case of “artifacts” and bodily remains, with some degree of subterfuge). He was less interested in proving a sweeping theory than in amassing data which future researchers could assess in greater depth. But the holy grail for all collectors—a unified theory of mythology—still had its appeal. Boas was not immune to the great search for “the laws of the psychic development of man,” as he put it.

Boas was something of a spiritualist, albeit a refracted one. He wrote, “We have to look upon the mythology of each separate tribe as a fusion of materials of diverse origin…. [T]he special forms in which we find them today are the result of a long historical evolution far antedated by the ‘elementary idea.’

“In order to recognize these elementary conceptions it is necessary to interpret not the myths found now, but to detach the changes brought about by historical, social and geographical causes, and thus go back to the simplest most general concepts.”

This project was to occupy mythographers, from Freudians to Structuralists, for much of the twentieth century, with profoundly mixed results. Boas wasn’t untouched by the longing among students of comparative religion and myth for our versions of human stories. But he criticized what he rightly saw as excesses in the comparative method.

The idea of some sort of original source of myth is as old as belief in the Bible, and has a very natural appeal to assimilationists of all sorts. The antidote has been a return, among indigenous peoples themselves, to the “authorized tradition bearer” whose stewardship of oral history is sanctioned by a context far more elaborate and deep than anthropologists were capable of realizing.

Narrative is only one dimension of many of these stories, which are laden with cultic references to family histories understood only by initiates in clan ceremonies.

So what are we to make of these visionary tales of Raven stealing the sun, of concupiscent tricksters like Mink, stories of violence, magic, wisdom, and deep humour? Have they a place in the twenty-first century, for all the deficiencies of their transcription?

The answer has to be a resounding, Yes. Myths and Legends preserves the ancestral voices of this province, a distant music often imperfectly understood by the recording ear, but vividly alive, waiting to be brought home.

In this process not only First Nations cultures stand to be enriched, but their neighbours as well.

Along the way we learn countless details, such as the origins of the word Nanaimo. It’s a roadmap backwards, in order to appreciate where we can go collectively. A companion volume is Douglas Cole’s Franz Boas, The Early Years, 1858-1906 (D&M & UWP), [See BCBW Winter, 1999],
and Ralph Maud’s Transmission Difficulties (Talon). –By Gerry Hopson (2003)
Early Years 0-295-97903-8; Indian Myths 0-88922-458-7; Transmission 0-88922-430-7

[Spring 2003 BCBW]


The Lil’Wat World of Charlie Mack (Talonbooks $24.95
article



Ever since chiefs Baptiste Ritchie and Sam Mitchell of the Mount Currie and Fountain reserves recommended Charlie Mack as the best source of Lil’wat stories in 1969, ethnographers Randy Bouchard and Dorothy Kennedy began visiting his Birkenhead River cabin in the Pemberton Valley. The more Mack shared his world view and moral code as a master storyteller, with animated renditions in both Lil’wat and English, the more a friendship between the trio became crucial for recording Mack’s continuity with a mythological past. Two decades after his death, the team of Bouchard and Kennedy have compiled a tribute to Mack’s essential role in B.C. ethnography with The Lil’Wat World of Charlie Mack (Talonbooks $24.95), ensuring his rightful place in B.C. literature. Mack was born in 1899 and died in 1990. His stories were first recorded, translated and published in Lillooet Stories (BC Archives, 1977). 978-0-88922-640-1

[BCBW 2010]


Golden Eagle of Squamish




REVIEW: The Amazing Mazie Baker: the Squamish Nation’s Warrior Elder
by Kay Johnston
Halfmoon Bay: Caitlin Press, 2016. : $24.95 / 978-1-987915-06-8

Reviewed by Dorothy Kennedy

*

In The Amazing Mazie Baker, Kay Johnston exposes the life and work of Mazie Baker (born 1931), the Squamish gadfly and firebrand who exposed irregularities in housing policies and accused the Council of the Squamish Nation of fraud, corruption, and financial mismanagement.

*

The Amazing Mazie Baker: the Squamish Nation’s Warrior Elder is a hard book to read, despite Kay Johnston’s lively and competent style and her ability to let the “unflinching, irreverent and uncompromising” Mazie Baker tell her own story.

Johnston took on this book project out of respect for what Mazie Baker had achieved. But the book is not without flaws. I cringed, but persevered, after Johnston asserted that the Squamish Nation is a matriarchial society (11). Traditionally it was not governed by women and descent was not reckoned solely in the female line.

Johnston warns that the reader may not agree with everything Mazie Baker says or believes (10) and this is certainly my experience. I did my best to ignore Mazie’s uninformed views on the linguistically accurate and well-accepted Squamish orthography (spelling system) (75). I kept waiting for the promised hard-hitting expose of malfeasance in the administration of Squamish affairs by the Department of Indian Affairs and, as I had been led to believe, by the Squamish Nation itself.

Mazie Baker’s parents and father-in-law had told her always to stand up for herself, and being a feisty, outspoken individual. Though illiterate, she relied upon her memory and personal contact with others in the community to form her opinions and rally support.

Accompanying fellow Squamish parent Jackie Gonzales and a handful of other concerned members, Mazie led a protest and slowed traffic to advocate for a traffic light, thereby increasing Squamish students’ road safety, a commendable act that required great perseverance to navigate the local bureaucracy.

It also required a court appearance to have dismissed the City of North Vancouver’s ill-considered injunction to stop the protest and a sensible judge to send the parties off to resolve the “ridiculous” debacle in favour of the demonstrators.

Mazie also fought for a school bus and road bumps, issues that became, according to Johnston, training for her battles with the Squamish Council that lay ahead.

The Squamish administration felt the full force of her convictions when Mazie found that Council had authorized building upon a lot for which her adopted brother, then in jail, held a certificate of possession, giving him lawful tenure. The incident became a raucous affair ending with an angry membership, several firings of Band personnel, and a couple of wrongful-dismissal suits, along with a new house for her brother.

On Indian Reserves across Canada certificates of possession were, and remain, a contentious issue and Mazie Baker found herself embroiled in several disputes regarding her own land ownership on the Squamish Reserves. “I am a land baroness,” she proudly told Johnston (103).

Sufficient housing is a perennial problem on Indian Reserves. This issue was exacerbated by the addition of people to the membership rolls brought about in 1985 by Bill C-31, well-intentioned legislation that returned Indian status to many Indigenous women who had lost it though marriage to non-Indigenous men.

One of Mazie’s relatives suffered greatly from this earlier practise of delineating membership. Coupled with the length of the Squamish Nation’s waiting list for housing and the seemingly biased nature of decisions about who received houses, revision of the Nation’s housing policy became a focus for Mazie Baker’s formidable energy.

In the late 1990s, Vancouver newspapers began to take an interest in Squamish affairs and Mazie found herself the spokesperson for good headlines and explanations of why such disparity in wealth was evident on Squamish Reserves.
The explosive atmosphere being fuelled by such press provoked the Squamish Council to circulate a newsletter advising that “claims of fraud, corruption and financial mismanagement on the part of your Council and Administration … are based on unproved allegations by several members of the Squamish Nation” (130).

Yet Mazie Baker was relentless. When she caught wind that the Nation was discussing the First Nations Land Management Act, a significant piece of legislation that would forever affect the governance of the Squamish people and allow them to take over from the federal Department of Indian Affairs the management and control of their own land and resources, Mazie perceived it as further evidence that the Council could not be trusted to work in the best interests of her people.

She and her friends then mounted an attack against the Squamish Council, demanding full consultation and transparency. Her campaign resulted in the membership’s overwhelming rejection of self-government and her people’s choice to trust Indian Affairs over their own kin (175).

Gibby Jacob, the economically savvy Squamish Nation chief, had once stated that in ten years’ time the Squamish would be B.C.’s largest developer, but now the Nation’s pursuit of self-government had been thwarted by a woman with incredible chutzpah who, though she couldn’t read the documents being discussed, took it upon herself to understand the issues. May this be a lesson to all.

A chastened Squamish Council learned from Mazie Baker that appropriate consultation must come early -- and come often.

*

Dorothy Kennedy is a consulting anthropologist, occasional university lecturer and expert witness specializing in the Indigenous cultures of British Columbia, Washington State and, most recently, Alberta and the Yukon. She completed a Doctorate degree in Anthropology from the University of Oxford, England in 2000, and an award-winning Master’s degree in Anthropology from the University of Victoria where she has taught in the Anthropology Department and the Indigenous Education Program. For the past four decades, including two decades devoted intensively to ethnographic and linguistic fieldwork in First Nations’ communities, she has been engaged full-time in the research process, from conceptual planning and document review to issue-focused research, analysis, and reporting. She is the author or co-author (primarily with her colleague and husband, Randy Bouchard), of hundreds of reports, as well as numerous published articles and books, both scientific and popular, including four articles in the Plateau and Northwest Coast volumes of the Smithsonian Institution’s Handbook of North American Indians and, most-recently, Talonbooks’ The Lil’wat World of Charlie Mack (2010). Kennedy and Bouchard are also editors of the well-acclaimed Indian Myths and Legends from the North-Pacific Coast of America, a translation of Franz Boas’ first and significant collection of BC First Nations’ mythology published by Talonbooks in 2002, and originally published in German in 1895. As of 2017, she was with Bouchard & Kennedy Research Consultants at Mill Bay, B.C.

*

The Ormsby Review. More Readers. More Reviews. More Often.
Reviews Editor: Richard Mackie
Reviews Publisher: Alan Twigg
The Ormsby Review is hosted by Simon Fraser University.

[ORMSBY 2017]